As embarrassed as I am to admit it, the Golden Rule sometimes frustrates me. Sometimes, I wish it were one of those sayings people think is in the Bible but really isn’t—like, “God helps those who help themselves.”
Unfortunately for me (at least in those less-than-stellar moments), it is part of the Holy Writ—showing up in bright red letters in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”
The concept of treating others how we would like to be treated is one I often refer to in conversations with my daughters. Whether the situation involves kids at school, each other or some stranger on The Voice, “How would you feel if someone did that to you (or said that about you)?” is a question worth considering, especially at this particularly me-focused stage of their lives.
But when it comes to my own reactions to perceived slights, I’m inclined to bypass the Golden Rule and proceed straight to feeling sorry for myself. When something I’ve said or done—my presence when I’m not normally there, my absence when I normally am, a fresh haircut, a new blouse, a sad countenance, the clean bathroom, how much effort I’ve put into something, the delicious supper—is overlooked or not mentioned, I’m tempted to get hurt feelings.
On rare occasions, the affront is intentional. Most often, though, it’s not.
People are busy. They don’t always notice everything that is important to me. They may notice and forget to mention it. There could be any number of reasons.
In these cases, I need to remember how much I love these people and give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, I need to get over myself and stop being petty. Sometimes, a reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around me is in order.
But always, I need to look for opportunities to do for others what I wish someone would do for me, and then do it.
It’s counter-intuitive, I know. But it’s the only way I know of to take the focus off of myself and carry on about the business of living in a way that honors God.
I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I wonder if you might be able to relate to what I’m saying in some tiny way. If so, can I just pass on a version of what I shared with myself not so long ago?
- If you are an encourager who needs some encouragement, keep encouraging.
- If you are a helper who could use a little assistance, keep helping.
- If you are a prayer warrior who needs prayer, keep praying.
- If you are a cook in need of some nourishment, keep cooking.
- If you are a giver who could use a present yourself, keep giving.
- If you are a card sender who wishes someone would mail you a note, keep sending those cards.
- If you are a listener who wants someone to hear you, keep listening.
Just keep doing the things God has designed you to do, even when they seem small to you, even when it seems like nobody is noticing, even when you desperately wish someone would return the favor. Don’t ever believe the lie that what you’re doing doesn’t matter, that nobody would miss it if you stopped.
Because you are making a difference. And God sees it, even if you can’t.